Most popular best Romanian dishes are either 100% Romanian or borrowed from several traditions with which Romania has come into contact. As a result of this wonderful contamination, Romanian kitchen has been influenced by Turkish (Ottoman Empire, to be more precise), Greek, Austrian, or Hungarian cuisines, as well as those of the surrounding Slavic countries of Eastern and Central Europe.
The Ottoman Empire cuisine influence
Hundreds of years ago, the Ottoman Empire brought new appetizers to the Romanian table: eggplant and bell peppers, as well as various meats have been cooked Turkish style since then. Chiftele (fried meatballs), mici (grilled sausages without casings), iahnie de fasole (beans), ardei umpluti (stuffed peppers), and sarmale (rolled cabbage) are influenced by Turkish cuisine and they are probably on the top 20 most popular dishes in Romania.
Here is a dish we borrowed from the Ottoman Empire and promoted it to traditional appetizer:
Characteristics of Romanian dishes
Not only has cheese been a part of Romanian cuisine since ancient times, but it also ranks first in terms of diversification among Romanian foods. Branza (cheese) is originally (apparently) a Dacian word. As you probably know by now, I am a hardcore cheese fan. Romanian cheeses are really special and most of them are quite strong, so here is a list of the most popular ones.
Popular Romanian cheeses
Cascaval is the the firm yellow pressed cheese similar to mild Cheddar.
Telemea is a salty semi-firm white cheese similar to Greek feta
Cas is a fresh white cheese made from sheep or cow’s milk
Branza de burduf
Branza de burduf is a fermented cheese matured in fir tree wood (bark) and sheep stomach.
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More Romanian dishes and their characteristics:
One of the most common meals is the mamaliga (polenta, cornmeal), served with cheese, sour cream, sausages, boiled eggs or sometimes milk.
Soups are soured with sauerkraut juice, vinegar, or bors (made from bran), less frequently with lemon juice. My Granny used to say that “the nobles sour their soup with lemon juice, the plebeians with bors.”
Tuica (plum brandy)
Romanian palinca or tuica (strong plum brandy) is popular alongside red and white wine.
Most popular Romanian meat is pork
In our country, pork is the main meat used in Romanian cuisine, but also beef, lamb (on Easter) and fish (after Orthodox Lent) are served.
Romanian Easter traditions
At Easter, Romanians eat lamb. Dishes such as bors de miel (lamb sour soup), miel la cuptor (roast lamb), and drob de miel (Romanian lamb haggis) are very popular. The traditional Easter desserts are cozonac (sweet bread) and pasca (sweet cheese bread).
Romanian Christmas traditions
On December 20 (Ignat’s Day), pigs are sacrificed in the countryside. This is a list of pork Christmas foods that are prepared on the occasion:
- carnati (pork sausages)
- jumari (greaves)
- lebar (liverwurst)
- piftie (pig’s trotters)
- pomana porcului (pork feast; fried cubed pork served right after the pig’s sacrifice)
- sangerete (black pudding)
- toba (head cheese or brawn)
However, the highlight of both Easter and Christmas meal is the traditional cake cozonac, sweet bread made with nuts, honey, cocoa and rahat (Turkish delight).
List of most most popular best Romanian dishes
- sarmale (rolled cabbage)
- cozonac (sweet bread)
- oua rosii (painted Easter eggs)
- papanasi (fried donuts with sour cream and jam)
- mamaliga (polenta)
- mici or mititei (grilled meat rolls)
- cascaval pane (deep fried breaded cheese)
- ciorba de perisoare (meatball soup)
- ciorba de burta (tripe soup)
- mucenici (sweet homemade pasta soup with nuts and cinnamon)
- ardei umpluti (stuffed peppers)
- mancare de gutui (quince sweet stew)
- pasca (sweet cheese Easter bread)
- iahnie de fasole (baked beans)
- varza calita (cabbage stew)
- ciorba de potroace (sauerkraut soup)
- ciorba de fasole (bean soup)
- drob de miel (lamb haggis)
- jumari (pork rinds, smoked bacon and greaves)
- muraturi (pickles)
- zacusca (vegetable dip)
- icre (fish roe dip)
- fasole batuta (white bean dip)
- salata de vinete (roasted/smokey eggplant salad or eggplant dip to be more precise)
Romanian traditional farmer’s market
All year round, we visit traditional farmer’s markets where we can find all kinds of homemade food from all over Romania. Matured and fresh cheese, pickles, smoked meats (mostly pork), fruit, vegetables, honey, eggs, vinegar, preserves, wine, plum brandy and so much more are available. Here are some colorful shots of the food I’ve bought from the farmer’s market over the years:
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Before you go, you are in for a treat :). Take a look at these absolutely fabulous photos of Romanian dishes we have prepared over the past 15 years. These are some of our best dishes and we take pride in our cooking. Let me know if you like the shots by adding a comment in the comment section at the end of this post. Thank you! Enjoy!
Romanian food is so tasty. Look at this wonderful soup recipe:
And now, last but not least, one of our all time favorite American/English apple dessert recipes: Apple Cobbler.